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The Last Ranger: Prologue
Posted By: QuantumSheep<jasnash@optusnet.com.au>
Date: 9 June 2008, 11:46 pm

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He didn't have long, he knew that. His stomach ached, a dull throbbing pain in its place. His legs hurt, especially his right one where, looking at it now, he could see part of his shin had been blown away, revealing dark purple flesh. Blood was oozing out and he tried to shut out the pain it was causing him. He wasn't very successful.

His chest hurt and putting a hand there he could practically stick two of his fingers into the worst of the wounds: he had been hit square in the chest with a projectile weapon and the projectile itself had shredded itself up on its journey through him. Each breath required an amazing amount of effort which meant his lungs and respiratory system had been damaged in some way. He coughed, although rather than harmless saliva spraying out he ended up gagging on his own blood, bringing it up and coughing it up all over his lap.

In his right hand was a pistol: not anything he was very familiar with, rather a human made weapon which used the somewhat inferior projectile rounds when compared with plasma weapons. Right now it was the only weapon he had and one of the humans, the gruff looking one with the facial hair, he couldn't quite remember the name, had showed him how to use it several days before. Using his other hand to pull back the slider, he ejected the lone bullet and let it land with a slight clink onto the stone and marble floor underneath him.

Picking it up, he reached for his waist and pulled away one of the spare magazines. It was the only one he had left and he squeezed the lone bullet into it, ejecting the empty one from the pistol and loading the new one in its place.
Thirteen bullets, that's all he had left. Resting the pistol on the floor beside him, he slumped against the wall, trying to clear his mind. Memories of home and of recent events came flashing through his mind, he tried to determine which ones had relative meaning to his predicament now.

Taking a quick glance around the small room he was in, he noted that it was underground. The floor was tiled neatly with glazed, marble tiles. The stone walls were painted a light beige colour and one stained glass window was on the other side of the room, sunlight filtering inside and into his eyes.

Putting a hand in front of his eyes to block out the
sunlight, he saw the other human, the dark-haired one whom so many had considered a coward, sitting underneath the window. His uniform was stained with red blood but he seemed to still be alive, a pistol in each hand. He had been looking towards his Elite roommate for some time.

"You're not looking too well," the human said. Jeras just ignored him, shifting where he sat and grunting from the pain it caused. He knew he must have been bleeding to death, both externally and internally, but he knew that if he didn't go outside and finish what was started the night before he would probably die where he sat.

"You're not actually considering on going outside are you?" The human asked, "they'll be all over the damn monastery…Every single one of the Krauts…" The human coughed, not in much of a state to talk.

Jeras Kallonmee didn't bother responding to the human. For the past year he had spent his time fighting their species, only to discover that he had been doing the wrong thing in that aspect. The Prophets were the ones who deserved to die.

There was a door to his left: an old, wooden door with a handle-opening mechanism. Behind it was the main outdoor courtyard of the ancient human structure, the structure that had been built over five hundred human years ago and had acted as a museum for many human artefacts. Many of these artefacts had been worthless in every sense to Jeras, although a few had actually been those of the Forerunners, the very gods the Prophets had made his species worship.

Jeras didn't think it would happen, but it did: a memory that came into his mind, it seemed serious but it made him laugh. The day, all those years ago, he had struck down his trainer, the elderly Sangheili had had it coming.

"You will never amount to anything!"

The trainer struck him again, this time in the ribs. Jeras fell onto the floor, shouting from the pain. Standing about a metre or so from him was the tall, elderly but surprisingly athletic trainer Master Kaklas. He was in the basic robes of an elder, Jeras with only a pair of beige training shorts on. He was only fifteen and yet Kaklas expected him to be able to do all that he could do.

Tears were welling up in Jeras' eyes, but he dared not to cry. Instead he got up, the steel training baton in his right hand. He held it at the ready, trying to prepare himself for another of Kaklas' attacks. The elderly master just waited for Jeras to attack, his wooden cane back in its original position to aid in his stance.

Jeras was exhausted, bruised and bloodied. For the last few hours he had been forced into training by his father, who, for the first hour or so, had been watching from the other side of the room. He had left by now though, not wanting to see his son humiliated in defeat.

Which was part of the reason why Jeras always got back up. Every time the master knocked him down, Jeras would get back up, no matter how severe the injuries were. Any medically trained Sangheili would be telling him to stop but even if that did happen, Jeras wouldn't listen. He wanted to show anyone, he wanted to show himself, he could get through this. That he could actually get a hit past the ageing master's defences.

Twirling the baton around in his right hand in the way his father had shown him, Jeras charged forwards, only for the master to sidestep and stick his cane out at a low angle. Jeras was caught off guard and was tripped right over the surprisingly strong cane,, landing flat on the floor. He was short of breath and the master simply stood where he was, barking demoralising insults at him. After all, it was his job.

"Your father left since he could not bear to see you lose," Kaklas said, "he did not want to have his family name dishonoured because of your poor efforts."

Jeras was suddenly filled with rage. His father had been the one to force him into this, into this so-called 'training' session. Now he had left and still hadn't told the ageing master to stop. It was a test of Jeras' endurance, both physical and mental. He would have to take a beating and he would have to take insults. All he had to do was prove to his father that he could fight.

Ever since Jeras had been young he had been against violence. He simply didn't believe in it. His father was a highly decorated Field Commander and to have a pacifist son was embarrassing. He had forced Jeras into a brutal training course, had forced him to train every day, study every night. His father took it all very seriously and didn't take much notice of his son's complaints.

Jeras slowly rose to his feet. Immediately the master struck him down again with a quick blow from his cane across Jeras' back. It stung madly and Jeras was down on the floor, groaning as his muscles tried to recover from the blow. It was agonizing and for a moment he thought he might not be able to get up again.

Jeras rolled onto his back and saw that the master was standing over him, looking down with a smug grin.

"You are the son of a war hero," Kaklas said, "you embarrass your father and your family name by your pacifist approach…"

Jeras summed up the last of his strength in a get up attack which Kaklas never saw coming. Jeras kicked out with both legs, getting the master in the stomach and winding him.
Jeras brought himself forward at the same time, putting himself back onto his hooves. He still had the steel baton in his right hand which, seeing that the master was only just recovering from being winded, Jeras twirled into an
appropriate position.

He stepped towards the master and brought the baton from around his head and into Kaklas' face, tenderizing his mandibles. The master stumbled backwards and before he could recover from that Jeras swung again. This was quickly followed by another swing and another. He tried out a variety of different swings from quick smacks to the more powerful, full swings.

However, Jeras had left himself open to attack. He was mildly aware of his father coming back into the room and standing by the door, watching with a neutral expression as his son beat up a sixty-five year old Sangheili elder.

The master kicked Jeras in the chest, sending him stumbling backwards before he came to a painful rest against a wall. Kaklas wiped the blood away from his mandibles and seemed angrier now since he hadn't taken any blows since the beginning of the fight.

The elders were renowned for being able to keep their emotions in check but they were also renowned for losing control in spectacular fashion. This was one of those losing control times as Kaklas rushed towards Jeras and in one strike brought his cane around his head and into the side of Jeras' face.

The pain was excruciating and a few of Jeras' teeth were completely knocked out. He fell onto his side on the floor, groaning and putting a hand to his mandibles, finding that a gash had opened on the side of one of them where the cane had struck.

Jeras shook his head, trying to shake away the pain. He was aware of Kaklas stepping towards him and could see the rage in the ageing Sangheili's eyes. Jeras managed to avoid the incoming kick and instead grabbed the master's leg and twisted it at an awkward angle. There was the sound of something inside it breaking and the master roared in pain, falling to the floor.

Reaching a short distance to his right, Jeras found the steel baton which had fallen from his grasp from the master's last attack and grabbed it, getting back onto his hooves. Filled with rage, he brought the baton down onto the master's head. Something underneath made a cracking sound and at that moment Jeras lost complete control of himself, bringing the steel baton down again and again.
Something broke away underneath and soon dark purple blood was flying up with each blow. He was aware of a vice like grip grabbing both sides of him and forcing the baton out of his hands. Turning around he saw it was his father, who looked him straight in the eyes.

His father didn't look too worried about what had happened and had felt it more of a mess obligation to stop Jeras from beating the now dead Kaklas any further. He just looked his son in the eyes and muttered a few simple words which changed Jeras forever.
"Well done," his father said.

"How much ammunition do you have left?"

The voice completely broke Jeras' train of thought. He looked up and towards the human.


"How much ammunition do you have left, ugly?" The human asked, using the same name that a lot of humans called him. Jeras just shrugged.

"A single magazine," he said, "not enough to put up a good fight…"

The human, Mathers was his name, Jeras suddenly remembered, simply laughed.

"Well, you're better off than me, I guess," he said, coughing, "I only have a few bullets left."

Bullets were the projectiles most of these human weapons fired. Jeras hadn't known that until just recently. He also hadn't known what 'toast' was until some of the humans began making it in the mornings, occasionally offering some, usually with some sort of topping.

"It would be suicidal to go outside," Mathers said. The sound of a truck engine could be heard, growing in volume as it pulled up somewhere outside. Voices and footsteps could be heard once it had stopped, another complement of enemy soldiers hopping out and taking up positions outside.

There was the sound of gunfire which was returned by the sound of energy weapons fire. The gunfire abruptly stopped and a few laughs could be heard outside.

"They're mopping up," Mathers said, "it shouldn't be too long before they find us. Either we go outside and die or we stay in here."

Jeras didn't like the idea of dying in the same room as this human but he also didn't have the strength to get up. He was sitting in a gradually growing pool of his own blood and every time he coughed he would bring up some more.

He sat back a little, putting his head against the wall, taking deep breaths. If he was going to die, he would go outside and die in some sort of glory, gunned down in a hail of enemy weapons fire. He would not die in this hidey-hole with this human whom, for some reason, he didn't particularly like.

Memories of recent events came flooding back to him. He was a Ranger, a member of an all volunteer unit chosen to fight in the harshest of environments which included the vacuum of space. The armour they wore was made to protect them from the lethal, freezing vacuum but could easily be penetrated by human and plasma weaponry.

It had been a few years earlier when he had volunteered for this unit. It had been thanks to a friend of his that he had joined. The Rangers had been an entirely new thing for the Covenant, something of which no one had ever heard of before. His friend had found out and convinced him to join up with him. The training course had been intense but he had made many friends throughout. All of those friends were either dead or dying, he couldn't be sure since it had been a while since he had seen any of them. He had last seen Kenas and the others alive last night before they had been attacked by an overwhelming force and Jeras had been wounded many times, being forced to take shelter in this basement room for his own safety.

Thinking back on it now, he would have preferred to die in battle like the others. He tried to get up but it hurt far too much and he was down again, sitting in a pool of his own blood as he slowly bled to death, both internally and externally.

Mathers was looking on and simply chuckled when he saw Jeras' attempt to get back on his hooves.

"Even I can say you're in no state to get up," Mathers said, "and I'm no medical expert. How about we just sit here for a while?"

Jeras just shook his head.

"Why? You want to go outside, get gunned down like any other Elite should?"

For the last time, Jeras thought, he wasn't an Elite. He was a Sangheili. This human was beginning to infuriate him and even if Jeras was feeling a bit weak he could probably find some way of strangling the life out of Mathers.

"We could talk, you know," Mathers said, "have a civil chat. I'll tell you about myself if you tell me about yourself."

Jeras wasn't in too much of a mood to speak with the human and didn't reply, making it obvious he didn't want to talk. Mathers pretended to be ignorant of this fact and kept getting Jeras to talk.

"What's the matter?" Mathers asked, coughing, "cat got your tongue?" He paused and then frowned. "Do you even have a tongue?"

Jeras didn't answer straight away. He gave the question some thought, before replying, "what's a cat?"

Mathers laughed for what seemed to be the hundredth time
since Jeras had woken up. Once he had stopped, he prepared to answer the question but was interrupted by the sound of shouting outside. Mathers slowly rose to his feet and took a look through the window above him, putting a hand above his eyes to block out the bright morning sunlight. He seemed to be watching something for a moment and turned around when a sound of weapons fire could be heard.

"There goes another one," he said, sitting back down. He looked towards Jeras. "He was sprinting across the grassland outside when one of those Gerrie bastards shot him down."

Jeras wasn't too familiar with this human's choice of words. Each Ranger, like himself, had been taught the main human language so that, if needed, they could communicate with humans, operate their technology and so forth. It seemed a waste of time since a lot of the humans used slang words and profanities, something of which Jeras wasn't too familiar with.

"So, are you going to talk or what?" Mathers asked. Jeras didn't reply. Mathers just shook his head.

"How about we keep it simple?" He asked, coughing in mid-sentence, "you have any girls in your life? Any females?"

Jeras thought that maybe it wasn't the human's business to know, so he didn't answer. Mathers just sighed, frowning.

"Could you be more cooperative?" Mathers asked, sounding flustered, "I'm just trying to make our last moments on Earth a bit more light-hearted and you don't even want to talk."

A silence followed, which continued for about another minute. Jeras put a hand to his side and could feel yet another wound he had missed which had gone through his side and into his gut and was bleeding profusely. No wonder he felt so sick.

"Tell me about your family," Mathers said suddenly, "come on, let's get a talk going here. I don't want to die in silence."

Jeras thought about this for a moment. He didn't feel like talking about his family life with a human, but he realized that maybe there wasn't much else to do and he might be better off just humouring the human.

"My family?" Jeras asked.

"Yes, you do have a family, don't you?" Mathers asked, "I know some of your friends did. Some of the men would speak with them, get to know them. You, on the other hand, seemed awfully quiet."

Jeras did have a family. The last time he had seen his father had been when he was seventeen. He often lied about it to people whenever he was talking about it, saying that his father had died in battle and so he had gone to live with only his mother for the next few years. It was, of course, an entirely different story which was often painful to talk about. Right now though, he was in far more physical pain then emotional pain and thus thought he could talk about it. Many people said that it was better to talk about something that's bothering you, but he had never really been a great believer in that. Mathers seemed the type who would be interested to hear the full story, though. Jeras couldn't pinpoint why exactly but he just seemed the type.

Jeras, had, for most of his early life up until he was old enough to join the military, lived in a reasonably sized home on the outskirts of one of Sanghelios' many cities.
The city itself was surrounded by grassland, hills and swamp land and the beach was several kilometres away. The population was mostly Sangheili but ever since the war with the humans had began an increasingly large population of other Covenant races had started to appear in the city. Covenant shuttles, drop-ships and a few capital ships were visible in the sky over the city.

This particular night was like any other, although tonight Jeras had spent the night out with friends at a club in the city, watching the Sangheili females there dance for them. He was seventeen and had some time off from the college he was attending, which gave him an excuse to spend his nights like this. He couldn't remember this particular night all that well, he had taken in a little too much liquor.

His father, Jalais, had recently returned from a campaign against the humans. He had come back with some wounds and with some decent stories of his exploits.

His mother, since neither Jeras' father or Jeras himself had been at home that day, had spent the day with some of her friends out in the city. Jeras didn't have any means of transportation home and she had been the first one he had contacted for a means of getting home. The Sanghelios cities were unlike the ones on High Charity, there were only some anti-grav transports available. The means of transportation on Sanghelios was by ground or by shuttle.

His mother arrived in a standard transport, a spin-off of the military vehicle known as the Spectre, although in place of a plasma cannon there was a back seat.

His mother's name was Erilina and she had never been on good relations with her husband. Apparently it had been fine at first, but as time wore on and Jalais was leaving more and more frequently to fight in the war she had begun to grow tired of the man. Of course, she tried to make it out that everything was fine to Jeras, although he knew just as well as she did.

She pulled up in the civilian Spectre in front of him and turned to look at him. She gave him a strange look.

"You're not drunk, are you?" She asked, unsure of what to think of him.

Jeras shook his head.

"I don't think so…"

She nodded.

"Uh-huh." She paused, before adding, "it doesn't really matter, I was heading home myself. Just climb in," she said.
Jeras climbed into the backseat, his head throbbing with a dull pain. He certainly did feel light-headed and began to laugh quietly for no reason at all. His mother just ignored him.

It was a fairly long drive through the city before they reached their home, located on a hill which gave an excellent view of the city skyline. Pulling up outside the front of their house, Jeras had begun to doze off in the back seat of the car. He was woken up by his mother, who turned to him and spoke loudly.

"Jeras, wake up," she said, "we're home."

Jeras regained his sense and saw that his mother was given him another strange look.

"If you want to sleep, you do it inside," she said, "no telling what you'll feel like in the morning, though."
She switched off the civilian Spectre's engine and climbed out. Jeras followed but he suddenly noticed his mother was glaring at something, now in deep thought all of a sudden.

"Your father's vehicle is out front," she said, nodding towards another civilian Spectre, dark in colour. Jeras recognized it as his father's Spectre, which didn't bother him so much, unlike how his mother seemed to be reacting.

"He told me he wouldn't be back until much later," she said. She started towards the front door, Jeras following. The sensors above the door, sensing that it was her, made the door slide open automatically. Following her inside, Jeras sat himself down on the couch in the lounge room, beginning to doze off again. His thought was broken when he heard angry shouting, mostly from his mother, who was down the corridor somewhere.

"Who's that?"

"She's no one…"

"You didn't expect me back early so you invite one of your other female friends over? How long has this been going on?"

"It's not what you think…"

"Oh really? Who is she, anyway?"

Jeras could hear that it was his mother asking all the questions. His father was trying his best to answer them and he saw a young Sangheili female, dressed in violet robes, walk past the lounge. They made eye contact for a second before she was out of the door.

His mother came into the lounge, looking quite angry. She turned to Jeras.

"Pack your things," she said, "we're leaving and we're not coming back. I just caught your father in the bedroom with one of those medical officers from the ship he was stationed on."

Jeras didn't feel very well and was hardly paying attention to what was going on around him. Instead, he rested his head on the arm of the couch and fell asleep, much to his mother's discontent.

"You're joking, right?" Mathers asked, laughing, "after all that time, your daddy was riding some medical officer?"

Jeras nodded. He wasn't entirely sure what to say. At the time he hadn't thought much of it, but now it seemed quite a big deal to him. That had been the last time he had seen his father.

"There has got to be more you can tell me," Mathers said, "for one thing, how did you end up on Earth?"
Now that there would be a long story. Jeras just nodded.

"It is a long story," he said, "and I'm guessing you would want to hear it before we both bleed to death?"

"Better than dying in silence," Mathers said.

Jeras agreed with this remark. It would get things off his mind, and once he was done telling it, he would be heading outside and finishing what was started. Jeras was a Ranger, he was elitely trained and his speciality was going up against overwhelming enemy forces. For the human's own amusement, Jeras began telling his story, starting with his apartment on High Charity on the Sol Relative Time of September 12th, 2550...